Monday, August 27, 2012

Cwm Irfon to Cwm Hyfryd

While Llandrindod celebrates its annual Victorian fantasy its worth recalling that there were those in Wales who were eager to get as far away as possible from the great Queen and her Empire.   Given the linguistic situation at the time Radnorians were hardly likely to play a part in the establishment of the Welsh-speaking colony in Patagonia.  There is mention of a colonist named Jemima Jones of Llandrindod, but I've not been able to find out anything about her; while in the 1911 census there's a 20 year old draper's assistant called Hughes, living and working at Llandrindod's Central Wales Emporium. He lists his birthplace as Patagonia.

To find a more substanial figure in the history of the Welsh settlement we need to cross the Wye into Builth and to a farm called Tymawr in the parish of Llanafanfechan, the childhood home of Thomas Dalar Evans - his middle name celebrating the chapel at Troedrhiwdalar on the Newbridge-Beulah road.

Here's one of a number of youtube videos featuring Mervyn Evans, great grandson of Thomas Dalar, who has recreated the original watermill built by his family at Nant Fach in the beautiful Andean foothills of Cwm Hyfryd:

I'm afraid Mervyn's Spanish is a little too fluent for me, but we know that Thomas Dalar went to Patagonia in 1875.  There he married a girl, Esther Williams, who had come from the little remembered Welsh colony in Brazil.  The couple had ten children with significant names such as Irfonwy, Buallt, Brychan, Briallen, Eurgain etc.  I'm told that some of Dalar Evans' descendants came back to Builth a few years ago and discovered that while they still spoke Welsh, their stay-at-home connections did not.  In this one case at least the aim of the heroic migration had been a success.

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